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Jan 20, 2010 01:40 PM

Question for bakers: Baker's Percentages

Hi All,

I had a question about baker's percentages and the reason that flour is set to 100% in recipes, and all other ingredients and their ratios are in relation to the flour. I was just curious what the benefit of this was as opposed to setting all the ingredients as a percentage of the total weight of the recipe: ie: if the total combined weight of the recipe were 1000g, if the flour's percentage was in relation to 1000g rather than automatically being set at 100%.

I use bakers percentages all the time but in non-baking recipes I've seen people use percentages as ratios of the total weight, and Im just trying to figure out what are the benefits and disadvantages of either way of calculating.

Thanks to anyone who can help.


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  1. Probably because in baked goods flour is the main ingredient and bakers decided to use that as the denominator for all the other ingredients. So you weigh out the flour as sloppy as you like (or double it or cut it in half ) and now you know how much of everything else to add (and if you have a scale with a count feature, that's really easy).

    I've never seen a recipe that expresses ingredients as percentages of the total, but if you did it that way you would need to decide how much of the dish you want, multiply each ingredient's percentage by that percentage (writing the result somewhere), then weigh everything out according to your notes.

    1. Using percentages as a factor of the total weight in a "recipe" works fine, but in a "formula" it creates problems. If you decided to make a bread formula working from an initial total of 1000 grams and wanted to work with 100% hydration you'd have to start with a rough estimate of the flour/water weight ratio to get the proper amount of salt and yeast (assuming it was not an enriched loaf where more ingredients would be included) needed to produce a properly developed flavorful loaf of bread. 100% hydration requires equal amounts of water and flour, so you might decide on 492 grams of each, but how would you calculate the proper amount of yeast and salt. Your salt would come out to about .01 percent and your yeast to .006 percent. Those are pretty small numbers to crunch in the kitchen. Keep in mind that cooking and baking are two distinctly different sciences. Their only true common feature is that both use heat to produce the desired end result. Any recipe that you work with that does not use heat at some stage is not cooking; it's assembly.